Championships are won or lost at the line of scrimmage. It’s been said time and again that “he who controls the line of scrimmage controls his destiny.” Now, there is a strong possibility that I just made that wise proverb up, but let’s face it, that statement is pretty accurate. It rings especially true for the 2012 Seminole defensive line. Many consider the FSU D-Line (and the entire defense in general) to be the best in all of college football this season. College football super-expert Phil Steele has the first team D-Line ranked #1 in the country. He also stated in his annual preview magazine that if he could, he would rank the FSU second team D-Line in his top ten overall. Some analysts are also saying that FSU is building an “SEC-like” defense, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Florida State is building a “Florida State-like” defense. Speed, strength, domination. Remember what those were like? In case you forgot, or if your brain has been overloaded with “SEC!, SEC!” over the past six years, you’ll be reminded soon enough.
Over the past two seasons, the Seminoles have racked up 88 total sacks and were #1 in the country in 2010, when they took down opposing quarterbacks 48 times. Last year, the Noles allowed an average of only 83 rushing yards per game, finishing the year as the #2 rush defense in the nation. The entire D-Line returns for the 2012 season, where the Seminoles expect to impose their will on opposing offensive lines and fuel a return to national prominence.
Senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins (6’3″/260) decided to pass up the 2012 NFL draft and return to Tallahassee for his senior season. The two-time All-ACC defensive end has been named to many preseason defensive player-of-the-year lists, and is considered one of the top DEs in college football.
Anchoring the other side of the D-Line is junior Bjoern Werner. Werner (6’4″/255) a native of Berlin, Germany, only played two years of high school football as a foreign exchange student in Connecticut. He made an immediate impact during his 2010 freshman season at FSU, and has been a regular on the line ever since. Werner is strong, fast, and has a motor that never quits. He has adapted to the college game at a remarkable pace, and has been named to the watch list for the Lott Impact Trophy given to the nation’s top defensive player.
Slated to rotate in behind Jenkins and Werner are redshirt freshman beast Giorgio Newberry (6’6″/278) and seniors Cornellius “Tank” Carradine (6’5″/265), who racked up 5.5 sacks last season, and Toshmon Stevens (6’5″/248). Also in the mix are two very highly-touted freshmen in Mario Edwards Jr. (see key newcomer, below) and Chris Casher (6’4″/248). Casher was rated as the #3 defensive end in the nation by Rivals.com.
As loaded as the Noles are at defensive end, they are even more stacked in the trenches at the defensive tackle position. Seniors Anthony “Amp” McCloud (6’2″/322) and Everett Dawkins (6’2″/301) should get the nod as the starting tackles. They will be backed up by a talented rotation of equal size, strength, and speed. Talented sophomore Timmy Jernigan was the #3 rated defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com and saw significant time during his 2011 freshman season for the Noles. Tampa (Alonso HS) native and redshirt junior Demonte McAllister (6’2″/290), redshirt freshmen Nile Lawrence-Stample (6’2″/305) and Derrick Mitchell (6’4″/317), along with talented true freshman Eddie Goldman (see key newcomer, below) round out a solid stable of very talented defensive tackles. Coach Jimbo Fisher announced that senior DT Jacobbi McDaniel will take a redshirt this season while he continues to recover from a season ending ankle injury suffered last year vs. Duke.
I’m going to cheat a little here and throw two newcomers into the mix. This past February, FSU landed two of the top defensive linemen in the country when they signed Mario Edwards Jr. and Eddie Goldman. If the name Mario Edwards sounds familiar to Nole fans, that’s because his father, Mario Edwards Sr., played defensive back for the 1999 national champion Seminoles. Edwards Jr. was widely regarded as the top overall prospect in the Class of 2012, being named the USA Today defensive player of the year, ESPN First Team All-American, 247Sports defensive player of the year and also garnering a highly sought after five-star rating from Rivals.com. It will be hard to keep someone with the talents of Edwards off the field for long, and although FSU is very deep along the defensive front, Edwards could very well contribute this season and be an impact freshman for the Noles.
Also look out for DT Eddie Goldman. Goldman (6’4″/320) is yet another highly rated defensive lineman lining up for the Seminoles this fall. Goldman was ranked as the #1 defensive tackle in the country by ESPN and Rivals.com, and has been clocked at 4.8 in the 40-yard dash. The coaches were excited to say the least about landing Goldman. He has the size and speed to make an immediate impact and add even more depth to an already deep FSU front.
Next up on 8/24: Linebackers